For the Quarter Ending of June 2021
During the second quarter of 2021, Mixed Xylene (MX) supply conditions in the North American region improved compared to the first quarter, owing to the resumption of upstream crackers in the US Gulf coast which restored the production of nearly 83% of the refineries impacted by the winter storm. Improved Mixed Xylene production supported the regional export market as enquiries were piled up from the overseas buyers. Demand was exceptional in the second quarter as the offtakes from the downstream PTA and PX industry remained high throughout the quarter. As a ripple effect, Mixed Xylene pricing trend eased with FOB Texas discussion settling at USD 740 per tonne in June.
In the second quarter of 2021, Mixed Xylene supplies in the Asia Pacific region were ample to meet the buyers’ enquiries. One of the MX units in Japan resumed production after extended turnaround. The Chinese authorities imposed consumption taxes over the imported Heavy Aromatics commodities, which translated into strong gains in the domestic price of Mixed Xylene in the second half of the quarter after a long period of stagnancy. In India, Mixed Xylene (MX) pricing trend was bolstered in the first half of the quarter due to reduced imports from the overseas suppliers, however the industrial activities were subdued amid the COVID restrictions which surged the inventory levels. Ex-Works Ahmedabad (India) discussions for MX stood rangebound between USD 830-845 per tonne in June.
Planned outages at downstream PTA plants across the region subdued demand for Mixed Xylene. Even though the plants came online by June, demand remained largely muted. This boosted the supply fundamentals which were remarked as “better” in comparison to the earlier quarter. Exports to other regions also witnessed a slump in numbers. Spot activity in the key European market was soft although contractual volumes intake remained balanced. Price trend also epitomized the market sentiments, as FOB Rotterdam price was settled at USD 760 per MT measuring a dip in comparison to Q1 price.
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
As the region was hardest hit by the winter storm Uri in mid-February, the regional Mixed Xylene market remained severely impacted with the storm knocking numerous refiners and chemical plants offline for a significant period. The supplies of almost all xylenes remained constrained during Q1 2021, pushing the prices to unprecedented highs during the second half of the quarter. Strong offtakes from the downstream PTA and PET sectors surged the demand during Q1 2021. FOB Texas price of Mixed Xylene was assessed around USD 715/ton in March. Price for April deliveries witnessed a month-on-month surge of USD 100/ton, extending marked gains due to persistent tightness in the upstream markets.
Mixed Xylene supplies in the Asian Pacific region were balanced during Q1 2021, owing to the addition of new downstream production facilities in China. However, supplies tightened during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, followed by the hike in crude oil prices amidst the production cuts by the OPEC+ nations. Japanese giant, ENEOS Corp. remained severely impacted since 13th Feb. by the earthquake. At Negishi, Eneos restarted production of aromatics such as benzene, mixed xylene, toluene, from 21 February. Supply shortage in February spiked the prices of Mixed Xylene by 8%, prices of Mixed Xylene in India were observed around USD 842/ton in March.
The European Mixed Xylene supplies remained tight during the quarter as several northwest European plants were operating at reduced capacity, owned to the transportation hiccups in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp route amidst the cold weather and high-water level. Furthermore, reduced imports from the USA worsened the situation. The supply shortage was exacerbated by shutdown of major producer in Marghera industrial site in Italy having capacity of 35,000 tons/year Mixed-Xylene facility in early February. Demand surged due to better offtakes by the downstream factories.
For the Quarter Ending September 2020
Production of Mixed Xylenes from the Naphtha reformers and toluene disproportionation units was affected due to curtailed production margins. The news of commissioning of a new plant in south China helped in supporting the overall production capacity. Demand stood stable at the start of Q3 but accelerated moving into August and September. Recovery in the downstream consumption and buoyant end user demand triggered a sharp spike in the Asian pricing range. Indian mixed xylene offers were raised to around USD 660 per tonne in August, tracing the regional uptrend.
There was a sharp fall in the supply of Mixed Xylene by the end of the third quarter because of the seasonal storms across the US Gulf Coast which cut off nearly 10 per cent of total US’ Mixed Xylene supply. Sentiments were weighed under predictions that the MX supply in the US will continue to stay affected by reduced refinery run rates till 2021. However, demand witnessed a sudden jump in September with market sources stipulating active buying by the end consumers. However, the recovery was short-lived as the demand clawed back to its April-June levels much before expected. It is being predicted that the potential strength in spot benzene prices would lend strong support to the dampened MX prices moving into Q4.
At the start of Q3, Mixed Xylene market was heard grappling with weak economics. The main reason behind the pressured dynamics was the poor demand, forcing curtailed poor production rates. As per the market sources, Mixed Xylene run rates were maintained at low levels throughout H2 2020, amid anticipations that the situation may continue to be the same moving into 2021. Lackluster buying kept the offers exceptionally low throughout the third quarter. The region’s MX market remained under constant stress as the news of second wave of COVID-19 infections affected the producers who had been strongly eyeing on the economic recovery which would strongly decide the growth of the xylene chain.